Today is January 18, 2018 -
Vacation at our Hotel: No WiFi, No3G, and No 4G!
Today we assume that every coffee shop, hotel or airport offers free WiFi and strong cell phone reception. Would you patronize a place that did not? However, imagine that you are about to go on a vacation to a tropical shore to relax on the beach, to swim in the surf and to hike on a beautiful nature trail. There are two hotels in that remote paradise. One claims, “Free WiFi! Excellent cell phone reception!” The other advertises, “No WiFi, No 3G and No 4G!” Which would you choose? I have read that there are those who prefer to be really “out of touch” when on vacation and would choose the latter resort. Then there are others, perhaps most of us, who would only become more stressed if they were totally isolated from the outside world. This week we read in our Torah portion about Shabbat, a time when we take a one day vacation from work. “Six days work shall be done, and on the seventh, day it should be a complete rest sacred to God.” (Exodus 31:15) What if we chose to relax for one day without the various screens that we look at each day? Could we, would we survive? The psychiatrist and writer Dr. Edward Hallowell points out that we spend too much time, to use his term, “screen sucking” looking at electronic devices and not at each other. I know that I do. I am writing d’var Torah looking at my computer screen. I am contemplating the purchase of a tablet computer. Should I choose an iPad, a Samsung Galaxy or a Windows Surface? The thought of being away from all those electronic devices for a vacation may seem difficult, but imagine taking a brief weekly break from them. Somehow, the world will carry on if we do not respond immediately to every e mail, or instantly answer an instant message. We might be able to relearn the joys of communicating face to face. Even if our work is not totally complete when Shabbat arrives, even without following all the rules of Shabbat, and even without flying away to a foreign shore, we can still put down our screens. Then we can live in real time, with real face to face interactions and find a real break from our hectic pace.